Carter-Ruck instructed for Bercow as McAlpine launches libel claim

Media firm Carter-Ruck has been instructed by Sally Bercow, the wife of House of Commons Speaker John Bercow MP, as she faces libel proceedings from former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Alistair McAlpine.

Partner Nigel Tait is leading the work for Bercow. He confirmed that proceedings have been issued and served, but declined to comment further.

RMPI lawyer Andrew Reid is acting for McAlpine in legal action against Twitter users who tweeted the peer’s name in connection to mistaken sexual abuse allegations (15 November 2012). Bercow was among those who tweeted McAlpine’s name, on 4 November posting: “Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*”.

Since then Bercow, who temporarily suspended her Twitter account in mid-November, has consistently maintained that she merely commented on McAlpine ‘trending’ on the social media site and did not make any allegations against the peer. On 15 November she tweeted: “I asked why McAlpine was trending & added *innocent face*. No accusation whatsoever. Mischievious but not libellous. If I get sued so be it.”

McAlpine is asking users of the social media site with under 500 followers who tweeted his name to apologise and make a donation to the BBC’s Children in Need appeal, but Bercow currently has nearly 63,000 followers and was reported as having 56,000 in early November.

Reid was unavailable for comment.